Although we are experienced park and recreation professionals and are able to identify many recreation needs in our communities, citizen input will assist in prioritizing these needs. Reaching out to community citizens is time consuming, yet it is critical to recognize that public money is being spent to build facilities or offer recreation programs. Just as private industry keeps in contact with what their customers want or need, public agencies need to make time for public involvement. Public input combined with professional knowledge and expertise in guiding that input, will provide results to meet expressed needs.
Through public involvement we create an avenue for two-way communication between your agency and people served, as well as a method to end speculation about needs and determine what is wanted.
Encourage public participation in the planning process by demonstrating to citizens that they have a voice and are representatives of how local funds are spent. With a voice in the process citizens may become active supporters of your project, helping you meet your goals.
Checklist for Planning Public Input Events
Plan early – Don’t ask for citizen input after you have your building or park design ready to construct.
Inform public of the process, plans and goals.
Ensure that everyone in your community has an equal opportunity for participation in surveys, public meetings, etc.
Understand stakeholders the community that should assist in facilitating the planning.
Determine whether participants are representative of the community you serve.
Use multiple input techniques to assure representation in process to achieve well rounded results.
Evaluate participation – Did you provide opportunity for everyone to participate? Do my results include input from a sample of residents’ representative
Public Input Methods
Advisory Board Meetings
The Citizen Participation Matrix shows the function that each type of technique is better in performing. You can see that use of multiple techniques for public input allows for better representation of community needs and offers more opportunities to provide public input during the process.